Home at last

house

Milepost 15 HQ.

Happy New Year.  It’s that time once again when I buckle down and try to get Milepost 15 on a regular update schedule.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

There’s been a lot going on over the past year but not much of it was model (or real) railroad related. Last February Beth and I bought a house which meant that most of 2016 and most of my money was dedicated to moving, unpacking and renovations.  The house is a small cape with a single car garage and a large addition off the back. It’s not exactly what we wanted, I would have preferred a two car garage and a basement with full-height ceilings, Beth wanted a colonial (because she wasn’t going to be the one perched two stories up on a ladder when the gutters needed cleaning). That said, the house is in excellent condition and apart from a few incidental things just needs a bit of updating.  We got it for less than we had been planning to spend and were able to put 20% down. All in all I think we did pretty well.

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Turnout Motors

The four assembled and tested Mole Switch Machines for the staging yard.

The four assembled and tested Mole switch machines that will be buried in the staging yard.

Work has been progressing quickly on the removable staging yard I’m building for one end of my layout, and a few weeks ago I had reached the point where I needed to get the turnout motors installed. I’m using Proto:87 Stores, Mole Switch Machines which I’ve mounted on two sheets of .080” styrene sheet. This assembly sits in a notched hole in the foam baseboard, invisible from the top, but accessible from below. Continue reading

Layout Valance and Staging – Part 1

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The layout with its new valance and staging yard all custom built to accommodate my apartment and furniture.

I’ve been writing a lot about my adventures trackside lately, but have neglected to mention the progress I’ve made on the layout.  A couple of huge leaps were made over the last few months.

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Practice makes Perfect: Building a Diorama – Part 1.

diorama1

The foam diorama I created to test my ideas. It matches the profile of the layout bases. The square hole is where the switch machine will be mounted.

In order to better visualize how my layout plan will work, I built a small diorama to test my ideas.  It’s the same thickness as the layout baseboards (a 1″ piece of foam with a 2″ piece of foam on top where the track is and a 3/4″ piece of foam for the water, so the maximum thickness is 3″, minimum thickness is 1 3/4″).  This will allow me to test my switch machine mounting system, turnout construction and placement, sub-roadbed, and scenery techniques.  Read on to see what I’ve done so far.

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Building Foam Baseboards

baseboard3

Railroad books have many uses!

I’m slowly working my way towards being able to lay track on my model railroad.  One big step that I’d been putting off due to the finicky nature of getting it right, was final assembly on all the foam baseboards.  Since I live in an apartment and the layout will eventually need to move, the baseboard is divided into three equal sections.  That creates two joints that will have many tracks and a large expanse of “water” spanning them.  I have a little experience building modules, and I know that if the joints have large gaps and don’t line up vertically, it’s a huge headache later in the building process, so I’m trying to get everything as tight as possible from the very beginning.

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Let There Be Light

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Lighting has been installed on the layout.

After a frustrating, but important and ultimately successful couple of months, I’ve finished installing the canopy lighting on the layout.  I used two parallel runs of LED light strips operating off of their own dedicated power supply to provide consistent illumination to the entire layout.  It took some experimentation, but now that it’s done I’m happy with the result.

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